James, a homeless man, rests inside his new plywood structure on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The box was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

James, a homeless man, rests inside his new plywood structure on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The box was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Homeless man says ‘thank you’ to Chilliwack firefighters for building him a shelter

City of Chilliwack received several calls this week from people concerned about James’ safety

“Thank you.”

Those were the two words one Chilliwack homeless man spoke when asked what he wanted to say to the people who built him a wooden structure to protect him from the freezing winter elements.

James has been living on the streets of Chilliwack for years. He has been sleeping on Vedder Road, on the sidewalk outside the BC Liquor Store in Sardis.

But on Thursday (Feb. 11) James had a new place to sleep.

A structure, made from standard sized sheets of plywood, was set up outside the liquor store. It was built by folks from the Chilliwack Fire Department and the plywood was donated by Canex Building Supplies.

The simple, rectangular structure is raised a few inches off the ground and is open on one end. Styrofoam covers the floor to add cushioning and warmth for James.

A man drops something off for James, a homeless man, on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The plywood structure he’s in was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A man drops something off for James, a homeless man, on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The plywood structure he’s in was made by members of the Chilliwack Fire Department. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

On Thursday afternoon, James was lying down in the wooden structure when The Progress spoke with him.

Inside the box, the sub-zero winter winds were not felt – it was warm.

James was resting under a green sleeping bag. A gently used winter coat sat at the entrance and just outside the structure were a handful of coffee cups and some take-out bags of food.

The Progress chatted briefly with James and asked if he had anything else to say to the Good Samaritans who made the structure for him.

“No. Just thank you,” he said.

RELATED: Chilliwack one of six communities to receive homelessness funds from the feds

The City of Chilliwack has received several calls this week from people concerned about James’ safety with the recent Arctic outflow weather.

On Thursday Mayor Ken Popove wrote a letter to Dr. Victoria Lee, president of Fraser Health Authority, requesting they assess and evaluate James in person to see if there is any way to get him out of the cold.

“We are aware that James refuses to seek shelter indoors at any of the available facilities in Chilliwack during the extreme cold and we are hopeful that Fraser Health will take the necessary steps to help him,” said Jamie Leggatt, director of communications with the city.

RELATED: Chilliwack has highest rate of homeless women in B.C.: advocate


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

HomelessHomelessness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Chase RCMP have been focusing during February on prohibited drivers and stolen vehicles in the North Shuswap. (File photo)
RCMP crack down on prohibited drivers in North Shuswap

Help from community aids with arrests in Anglemont and Scotch Creek

Work on replacement of the Solsqua-Sicamous bridge is underway. (File Photo)
Solsqua-Sicamous Bridge work on pace for June 2021 completion

Replacement of the 100-year-old span began last August.

Craig Gruden, (Little) Donny Kleinfelder, (Big) Donny Kleinfelder, Dale Kristensen, Dave Schwandt, Alyssa Schwandt, Tristan Schwandt and Angela Kirstein will feature in Backroad Truckers, a Barriere-based History channel series. (CORUS Entertainment photo)
Shuswap auto recycler breaks out of Rust Valley for Backroad Truckers

White Lake’s Dave Schwandt joins Big Donny Kleinfelder on new History Channel series

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

Parkview Elementary Kindergarten student Siddhalee Martselos was among many students and staff at the school participating in the Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying event on Feb. 24. (Parkview Elementary/Facebook)
In Photos: Parkview Elementary’s many shades of Pink Shirt Day

Many students and staff at the school dressed up for the annual anti-bullying day.

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read